2011-03-04 / Columnists

The Diary Of A Green Thumb

Keeping Good Luck Alive! Caring For Your Shamrock Plants
Commentary By Danielle, Danielle’s Rockaway Florist

We are hoping that with Saint Patrick’s Day on the way, spring will be following shortly after. Until then we are still limited to enjoying our indoor potted plants. There couldn’t be a better time to give or receive an oxalis or shamrock plant, and bring home a bit of good luck!

The name “shamrock” derives from the Irish word seamorg- meaning “little clover.” It is an Irish-Christian belief that Saint Patrick used its three leaves in his teachings to symbolize the Father, Son and Holy Spirit of the trinity. In the 19th century the shamrock became a symbol of rebellion against the English and was strongly associated with good luck and Irish identity.

Traditional shamrock plants like cool air and moist soil to keep them looking strong, but are pretty fussy overall. It is hard to keep their rounded, clover-shape leaves full and green. They tend to turn quickly and after short-lived spurts of growth, they go dormant for long periods of time. At least two or three times each year the plant dies back and it is best to leave the soil dry and store the pot in a dark room. When little sprouts begin popping up, you can divide the plant if desired, and go back to the regular care. Sham-rock plants have simple root systems which allow us to plant them close together, creating dense clusters for ground cover or a full, lacey gathering in a ceramic pot.

Oxalis is another member of the wood sorrel family that is also sold for Saint Patrick’s Day. These clover lookalikes are easier kept as houseplants than the miniature clovers. Oxalis also offer a special treat with small budding yellow, pink, white or purple flowers at times, and its triangular shaped leaves create a clover appearance and range in color from green to dark red. They respond best to moderate, indirect light and moist soil. I suggest watering the soil from underneath the leaves, rather than from the top of the plant.

This helps to keep the stems from rotting. In very cool temperatures, the oxalis plant tends to grow very slowly and keep its size. As it gets warmer, you will notice growth. The stems will get taller and leaves a bit larger.

Whether it is a shamrock or an oxalis plant you will enjoy this Saint Patrick’s Day, it is all a matter of how lucky it makes you feel. Visit us at Danielle’s Rockaway Florist for all types of Saint Patrick’s day decorations, gifts and home décor. Fresh green flowers will be available for your table or for your hostess, and festive novelty items will help you prepare for this year’s parade. We are located at 436 Beach 129 Street in Belle Harbor, or can be found on the web at www.DaniellesRockawayFlorist.com. Have a great Saint Patrick’s Day!

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